TOP TAR­GETS TO TEST YOUR SKILLS

Mas­ter the tips and tech­niques here and you’ll have no dif­fi­culty ex­plor­ing th­ese ob­jects

Sky at Night Magazine - - DEEP-SKY TECHNIQUES -

M106

RA 12h 20m, dec. +47° 14’

M106 is an 8th-mag­ni­tude spi­ral galaxy in the con­stel­la­tion of Canes Ve­natici and is high­est in evening skies in spring. It’s pos­si­ble to see M106’s del­i­cate spi­ral struc­ture within the gen­eral el­lip­ti­cal halo in good skies and larger in­stru­ments by in­creas­ing the mag­ni­fi­ca­tion un­til this struc­ture has an ap­par­ent size of about 1º. This is the size at which the eye and brain work to­gether best to see dim, low-con­trast de­tail.

THE ESKIMO NE­BULA NGC 2392

RA 7h 30m, dec. +20° 53’

The 9th-mag­ni­tude Eskimo Ne­bula in Gemini is seen at its best in win­ter months. Its high sur­face bright­ness al­lows you to use high pow­ers to best bring out de­tails of the cen­tre, es­pe­cially the Eskimo’s face, although you will need steady skies. In very good see­ing con­di­tions try bump­ing the power right up by us­ing a Bar­low lens with your eye­piece. If the view de­te­ri­o­rates, back off a bit.

THE SWAN NE­BULA, M17

RA 18h 22m, dec. –16° 10m

The Swan Ne­bula lies at the north­ern edge of Sagittariu­s and is best in Au­gust evenings, when it is low in the south­ern sky. Use an ul­tra-high con­trast fil­ter and low pow­ers to frame the ob­ject nicely with some back­ground sky, but use higher mag­ni­fi­ca­tions to pull out de­tails like the finer points of the Swan’s neck on the west­ern side. Prac­tice your averted vi­sion to see the fainter sep­a­rate neb­u­lous re­gion off the eastern side.

THE AN­DROMEDA GALAXY, M31

RA 0h 43m, dec. +41° 21’

The huge An­dromeda Galaxy, which is nearly over­head in late sum­mer and au­tumn, is a great ob­ject to prac­tise the use of lower mag­ni­fi­ca­tions com­bined with sweep­ing the eye­piece to cre­ate the move­ment within the field that will al­low you to pick up the edges of the very low gra­di­ent eastern (lower) edge. Use higher mag­ni­fi­ca­tions to pull out de­tails of the dust lanes on the north­ern edge.

COPELAND’S SEPTET

RA 11h 39m, dec. +21° 56’

Copeland’s Septet is a com­pact group of small gal­ax­ies in Leo, best seen in spring. The gal­ax­ies range from mag. +13.7 to +15.2. The brighter mem­bers are not too dif­fi­cult to spot in 8-inch or larger scopes un­der dark skies but to see all seven mem­bers is harder. Good dark adap­tion and averted vi­sion are es­sen­tial; also switch to us­ing higher pow­ers to darken the back­ground, im­prove the con­trast and al­low the fainter mem­bers to be de­tected.

THE WEST­ERN VEIL NE­BULA, NGC 6960

RA 20h 46m, dec. +30° 46’

The Veil Ne­bula in Cygnus sits over­head in the sum­mer. The bright­est part, around 52 Cygni, is the West­ern Veil and is 1.5° in length. For the best over­all view of the whole ob­ject use the min­i­mum use­ful mag­ni­fi­ca­tion to­gether with averted vi­sion and an OIII fil­ter to im­prove the con­trast. Ex­per­i­ment with higher pow­ers to see if you can see some of the fine sin­u­ous struc­ture in the heart of this ob­ject.

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